I really should know better. Years of travelling should have taught me not to be so effusive in my gratitude for something, praising the GPS twice in 24 hours of all things. That just attracts the trickster god (of whatever pantheon), who clearly is behind my dropping of said item as I tried to pass it behind myself and into my purse, and its subsequent transformation into a brick. Not even a whimper as it died.
Now, neither DutchBoy nor I is particularly afraid of maps – I’m a planner and he’s a geographer after all. And we figured out that we had both assumed the role of family navigator at a fairly young age. But being good at maps means nothing without the having of maps, and in any case, in-city navigation in European cities is challenging at the best of times, what with signs hidden away on sides of buildings, if they exist at all, and roads that go in any which direction, clearly uninfluenced by any sort of grid system. And speaking of maps, DutchBoy had decided that it was now time to buy a new European road atlas to replace the one I’d bought in 2004, and that taking the old one was unnecessary. Of course, we hadn’t been able to find a new one yet, and atlases tend to have only the sketchiest of city maps in any case. So there we were, stuck in Strasbourg, needing to get to a garage somewhere else in the city, without the faintest idea of how to get there.
Oh yeah, the reason for me having had the GPS out in the first place? I was looking up our coordinates for DutchBoy to give roadside assistance should it prove necessary. It wasn’t, they just gave us the address of a dealer near the city since our vehicle was still drivable – it was only accelerating unevenly and stalling out when stopping or slowing down or idling. But now, how to get to said dealer? After some futzing around trying to find a public map, I realized that I had fortunately reinstalled the Garmin software and database when I’d done a wipe and reinstall on my computer just before we left, hoping to find more room on my hard drive. So, I plotted us a route and we got to the dealer. The dealer listened to what was wrong, took a quick look inside and found the problem. This thing, which helps feed the air into the engine:
Wow, quick and easy fix. So, we waited until he had time to fix it:
I ran over to the Lidl to buy food for lunch (where I discovered that the Lidl in France has better bread than our local bakery – not a hard standard to be sure, but still, the Lidl! (it’s a discount supermarket) – I also picked up a nifty wire fruit bowl with a banana hook and a step stool for in the van). And after several hours it was done. Except that as we were leaving, it became evident the problems were still there. We thought, oh, lets take it for a little drive to look for a GPS down the road and see if it gets better, but it didn’t. So back to the dealer we went. He hoisted it up and found that the fuel filter was apparently still the original, from 1990 and the fuel within it had turned into paraffin, and was in obvious need of replacement, but we’d have to come back in the morning to get it done. So, we looked for a campsite in the area using the Garmin database on my laptop, and the good old campsite guidebook that we had, which both pointed to the same one just over the border in Germany. We called ahead to make sure there was a spot – DutchBoy was thrilled because he’d gotten to use all five languages in in one day (there was a Spanish guy getting his car fixed at the dealer too), and headed over, getting caught by the same closed exit as the night before and having to negotiate through Strasbourg by my computer map. We finally got there, had a decent dinner in the campsite restaurant, and got everyone into bed.
In the morning, it was nice so the kids played around a bit:
And we got packed up:
So, we didn’t make the dealer by 9 as we’d hoped, more like 10:30, and we had to wait. The filter was switched by noon or so. And while it ran better with these two changes and it was now drivable, it wasn’t fixed. The mechanic could ID what was most likely needed, but didn’t have the part, and we’d have to wait until well into next week to get it (it now being Friday) and then hope that he’d guessed right. He did let us use their internet to look up Swiss and German dealers so we could see if they had it, and we got on the road.